The apartment is small. Furniture had to be moved to build the apron and legs for a table, four-feet by six-feet, here in the living room. The skeleton of the table, the bones on which the tabletop will sit, filled the space, and I crawled on all fours underneath it to get to the other side of the room. Some people have workshops. Some people have garages. Some people have yards or sheds or basements that aren’t dark and dirt-floored with green pellets of mouse poison deposited at the base of the stairs. I have a small strip of space outside, where I do much of the table building, and the rooms, kitchen and living, of this small apartment in Cambridge. It’s enough, but barely.
The apron, once done, had to be moved to the basement. It’s light, easy to lift. But the hall is narrow and the corners to turn are sharp. It would’ve been good to find the humor within the gymnastics of moving it out of the apartment, and some days that’s possible, but not this day. Like moving a headless animal in rigor mortis, legs stiff and straight out like you see sometimes on the animals at the side of the road, the apron knocked against walls, ground against doorframes. The upping and downing, tilting and spinning, turning round and round so its legs went one way, into a room where we’d spin it, so the legs faced the opposite way to round another corner. Then by the front door, it jammed, no way forward, dead animal born breech. A low arch and a bookshelf made the space too small to move through. Oh this was discouraging. The sick frustrated panic that I’d built something that could not be moved out of the apartment bloomed and spread. To take it all apart would not have been impossible, but it would’ve been difficult, and the idea of it was frustrating in a way that felt more like the sadness of failure than anything like belligerence and impatience.
With heat in my face, and the familiar urge when patience has dissolved to resort to brute force instead of brains, I muscled the bookshelf out of the way, which opened up enough space to get the apron and legs out the door at last. Some relief, but not much, nervous already about moving it into someone else’s space, and feeling the press, even stronger, of the walls of this place, as it gets dark in the fours, as outside gets less inviting. There’s no crying in carpentry? Sometimes there is.